You wait ages for a story about quatum dots and then two arrive in a week! After our recent post on large scale dispays using them we now find that a similar proceedure is being used to design solar panels. Could it be the year of the quantum dot? – Deskarati
Developing solar cells that are cheaper to produce and can harness the sun’s energy more efficiently are both important factors in ensuring the widespread use of solar energy to provide a clean alternative to fossil fuels in the future. Stanford researchers have found that adding a single layer of organic molecules can achieve both these goals by increasing three-fold the efficiency of quantum dot solar cells, which are cheaper to produce than traditional solar cells.
Quantum dot solar cells use tiny particles of semiconductors – the “quantum dots” – as the photovoltaic material instead of bulk materials such as silicon, copper indium gallium selenide or CdTe. While they are cheaper to produce as they can be made using simple chemical reactions, they have lagged well behind traditional solar cells in terms of efficiency.
“I wondered if we could use our knowledge of chemistry to improve their efficiency,” said Stacey Bent, a professor of chemical engineering at Stanford. She realized that is she was successful, the reduced cost of these solar cells could lead to mass adoption of the technology. Bent says that, in principle, quantum dot solar cells should be able to reach much higher efficiency due to a fundamental limitation of traditional solar cells.